Following in his footsteps

THE OLD DAYS: Veteran stage actor Rory Walker was inspired by his great grandfather, George Walker, and his vaudevillian history, leading to the creation of the one-man-show 'Following George Walker' coming soon to Naracoorte and Mount Gambier.

By Tyler Redway

THE Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre and the Naracoorte Town Hall will host a completely new performance in the form of a one-man-show created to honour a star of the vaudevillian era, George Walker.

Nearly a century after George Walker had kickstarted his performing career through singing, acting and sometimes magic, his great grandson, Rory Walker, managed to discover his family history and eventually created his performance titled ‘Following George Walker’.

Mr Walker, who has performed full time for nearly 30 years, said that he had stumbled upon some old newspaper articles as a kid, where George had been invited to write his life story in the early thirties.

“I wanted to save his story so my partner and I wrote it all out on the computer so we still have the story there as the newspapers slowly disintegrate,” Mr Walker said.

“Then we thought we could do a show about him because there were so many little stories and anecdotes and he just depicts a certain time.”

Mr Walker said that he couldn’t trace much of his history past his great grandfather, as George had been left on someone else’s doorstep as a baby, where he was then raised by another family.

“He sort of had to invent his whole life from that point and I have always found it quite fascinating,” he said.

Mr Walker added that the current base of the show involves himself trying to piece together a show from his history, while reviving the classic vaudevillian theme of his ancestor’s performance through song and comedic acting.

He also mentioned that he had not actually read the articles until he was “well into adulthood”, where he had already started a career in performing arts.

“That’s something which is brought up in the show as well is what sort of DNA we carry around from way back and how can we draw our own experience to those who lived before as well,” he said.

Mr Walker said he approached Brink Productions artistic director Chris Drummond where he had some initial ideas to start off.

“It’s taken a long time and it comes up to about two months of work but it spans over about ten years,” he said.

“I didn’t want it to be just about some kind of lecture of the old days and what my great grandfather did.”

Mr Walker said one of the biggest challenges of creating a show like the upcoming one was the fact that it was a one-man-show and there were not many others to collaborate with.

“When you’re doing other shows, you can often collaborate with fellow actors and talk about things whereas we’ve only got Chris and the creative team to reflect on certain aspects, especially when you’re making something up from scratch.”

Mr Walker said he hoped to tour the show more extensively next year and that he was excited to be able to premier the show in Naracoorte and Mount Gambier.

“I’m really looking forward to presenting this show in Naracoorte and Mount Gambier because that’s where he [George Walker] performed himself, so there’s a lovely link there.”

There will be two shows each for Naracoorte and Mount Gambier, with Naracoorte’s shows starting on August 11 at 1pm and August 12 at 6pm at the Naracoorte Town Hall, and Mount Gambier’s at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre on August 15 at 1pm and August 16 at 7pm.